On Monday, it will be five weeks since the start of the lockdown. So what has happened to the property market in the meantime? Clear directive from HM Government has firmly put the brakes on sales and lettings but I’m pleased to say we have not come to an abrupt halt! Whilst life day to day as an estate agent has changed, of that there is no doubt, all the indicators are currently positive for a strong revival when the current constraints on the marketplace are relaxed.
And what of life in lockdown? Well, the front doors to our offices, and homes we are selling, might be firmly closed, but that hasn’t stopped buyers, sellers, colleagues and other professional advisors communicating. The likes of Microsoft teams, Zoom and What’s App are proving as popular as email and phones. Who doesn’t like trying to work out how practical or otherwise is the bookcase selection in the background during a long video conference call? And how many times has someone forgotten to turn on the mute button when having a slurp of coffee or a cheeky biscuit when the discussions are getting rather drawn out? Whilst Rightmove has reported an initial 40% drop in their web activity, there has been a notable revival in the last seven to ten days as we all get used to current life and as commented by the likes of Her Majesty and Captain Tom Moore, “life will return”.
Whilst websites for agents and the main portals such as Rightmove and On The Market have seen traffic dramatically reduced at the time of the lockdown announcement, this has now started to recover and we, like others, have agreed sales in the last fortnight on houses and land where viewings admittedly took place prior to lockdowns. Prospective sellers seem resolute and many have confirmed their intentions to go to market as soon as they are allowed. Hence, I remain firmly of the opinion there will be a noticeable activity bounce in due course. There are increasing calls for the property market to be an early beneficiary when the current restrictions are relaxed, without comprising the nation’s health.
As an industry, we can help lead the economy out of lockdown given estate agency has a high inverted “multiplier” effect with a raft of associated trades and businesses directly benefitting once we are allowed to work again, let alone the tax receipts that would flow to the Treasury.
In the meantime, estate agents are getting used to working remotely, some have staff furloughed but eager to return. And for those of you who might be in a similar situation and wondering how you might occupy your time during this good weather, perhaps you might consider taking a few photographs when your garden looks at its best. If you’re thinking of selling, they are always helpful to send to potential purchasers otherwise, you might just want to keep them for posterity if you don’t naturally have good fingers. If you’re thinking of property maintenance and maybe a bit of decoration, please resist the urge to use that unopened tin of brightly-coloured paint simply because there’s no alternative only to find that the room looks a little alternative if you’re thinking of selling in the foreseeable future. Having said that, if you’re not thinking of selling and you do have the urge to have something a little whacky, then why not?
To those in the NHS, other key workers, volunteers and charities that are working so hard on our behalf at the present time, from myself and all at Lister Haigh, thank you.
Tim Waring is Head of Residential at Lister Haigh 01423 730700 www.listerhaigh.co.uk